RAIPUR: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, on Saturday, targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP leaders for referring to Adivasis as “Vanvasi” and describing the poor as the largest caste saying that the PM must change his mindset.
“Prime Minister claims that in this country, there is only one caste – the poor. Does this mean that according to the Prime Minister, there are no Dalits, Adivasis, or backward classes? If that’s the case, why does the Prime Minister refer to himself as an OBC Prime Minister? The Prime Minister needs to change his mindset on Adivasis and caste system”, he said at an election rally in tribal Bastar region in Chhattisgarh.
He said the Congress party will eliminate the term “Vanvasi” from the country and stand by “Adivasi”. The party will protect the “Jal-Jungle-Jameen” of the Adivasis, in contrast to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which aims to make Adivasis beg by taking their lands and giving them to corporate interests. During the BJP rule in Chhattisgarh, tribals used to be killed, he claimed.
He criticized the Modi government and condemned RSS and BJP leaders, including the Prime Minister, for referring to Adivasis as “Vanavasis”, which he considered an insult to the Adivasis. He said that the BJP treats Adivasis like “Janwar” (animals) in jungles.
Recalling an incident in Madhya Pradesh, he mentioned, “A BJP leader urinated on an Adivasi and made a video of it go viral. They do this to demonstrate Adivasis’ supposed place, which is why they call them ‘Vanavasis’. This is an insult to Adivasis. Within the term ‘Adivasi’, lies a profound truth. Adivasis are the rightful owners of the land, forests, and water in this country. The BJP has taken away their lands and forests, which is why they avoid using the term ‘Adivasis’. If they call them ‘Adivasis’, they would have to return their lands and forests. The term ‘Vanavasi’ is an insult to Adivasis, and the Congress party cannot accept it.”
He continued, “If a factory did not start its business within five years, it promised to return the land. We canceled Modi Ji’s friend Adani’s project to demonstrate that. Adivasis said that they didn’t want a factory here, so we canceled Adani’s project because you are not ‘Vanavasis,’ you are ‘Adivasis,’ and you deserve your rights. Narendra Modi used to refer to Adivasis as ‘Vanavasis’ before, but now, the term ‘Vanavasi’ doesn’t come out of his mouth, although the mindset persists.”
“In the last election, I promised to increase the price of paddy to 2,500, and everyone received it. The promise was to increase it to 2,500, but now it’s selling at 2,640. We raised the price of paddy without explicitly stating it. In the future, the price of paddy will continue to rise and reach Rs 3,000 per quintal,” he said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi mentioned that the biggest demand in Chhattisgarh is for banks. “Because we have put money in the pockets of farmers and rural people, and they want their money to be deposited in banks. We promised to waive loans, and we deposited Rs 23,000 crore into the accounts of farmers. The farmers used the loan waiver money in their villages, helping small businesses grow. On the other hand, Narendra Modi seizes the land, water, and forests of Adivasis, he said.
“We have reopened 300 schools that were closed by the BJP in Chhattisgarh. We have established Aatmanand schools. English is necessary in various aspects, from conducting Google searches to engaging in businesses. BJP leaders are concerned that Adivasis will start speaking English, which is why they encourage Adivasis to learn Hindi. That’s why the BJP refers to Adivasis as ‘Vanavasis,’ but we have established Swami Atmanand schools to teach English so that Adivasi children can learn the language.”
The BJP does not want Adivasis to learn English, as it believes that if they do, they will pursue various career opportunities, including becoming pilots. Congress will eliminate the term ‘Vanavasi,’ and the BJP will not have the audacity to label them as such. We stand with Adivasis and will protect their land.
Addressing the election meeting at Kharsia for Congress candidate Umesh Patel, Rahul Gandhi said that Nandkumar Patel, the late father of Patel, would have been the chief minister of Chhattisgarh if he had not been killed in the Jhiram Ghati attack in 2013. “I have seen many leaders in the Congress party, but Nandkumar Patel was the best ‘soldier’ of the Congress,” he said.

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